Join Chris Meyer for an in-depth discussion in this video Accommodating changes efficiently, part of After Effects Apprentice 08: Nesting and Precomposing.
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Chris Meyer: So you've went to the client to approve this animation, they've signed off on it, you've rendered the final, you're about to ship and take a early night, and the phone rings. It's the client. Yeah, yeah they know that they signed off on the proof you sent, but he's been showing to a few people since then and they just feel that that term "New Location" sounds too cold. Could you make it something a little bit friendlier like "New Cities" instead? Or imagine you had say not three but 50 cities all across the map. It would normally be a pain to go change the same word for all 50 those pieces of text.
Yes, there are scripts to make it easier but it's still labor intensive. However, since you've been smart and built up a hierarchy of compositions, where one master plate is flowing throughout your entire composition to get to your final, you only need to make one change. You go back to MyPlate, double-click New Locations, change it to the client's taste of New Cities, press Enter, go back to Locations Main, and it's rippled through all of your compositions.
It even keeps all of the animation moves intact. This is the benefit of building a hierarchy of compositions rather than trying to do everything in one composition. If you have an element you're going to reuse, reuse it. Because if you need to change it, you only need to change it once. Speaking of changing, as you've just noticed, this entire chain of pre-comps is indeed live. You can make changes anywhere along this chain and they will ripple through to your final. For example let's say that we don't like each of those cities being on from the very beginning.
We want to create a little bit more excitement. Well, we can go back to this USA map comp where these three cities exist and give them a little bit of an animation. Let's say we want the scale about over 20 frames. I go to my final pose, and enable keyframing at that post, since I already have it the way that I like it. Go back to the start of the comp and make it 0%, so now it fades out over time. I can even get fancy by selecting the Scale, going to the Graph Editor, and playing around just a little bit.
I am going to press plus to zoom in so I can see time in a little bit better resolution and let's say I want to ease into this keyframe. I'll hold down Option on Mac, Alt on Windows, drag out the influence handle, and come in level. And I want to overshoot. Again I hold Option or Alt, drag out an influence handle, and thanks to a trick you learned back in the Advanced Animation course, I go ahead and make a little bit of an overshoot and come in that final value. Press minus, move a little bit later here in time, press N in my work area, and RAM Preview.
Now you see how we have that little bubble pop animation ass we come to that city. Now I'll increase this influence. Bend this back a little bit early in time. We'll do more of an overshoot. There we go. That's a nice "come look at me" sort of animation. I'll go out of the Graph Editor. So back in time I'm pressing the minus key, select these keyframes because the Graph Editor just creates normal keyframes, and paste them in these other cities. Let's overlap these. Maybe I go to 15 frames, go to my second city, paste, press U to reveal its keyframes.
Go five times before that. It's like my 3rd city and paste. Press U. They're just keyframes. Press Home. I'll extend my work area to encompass all of my keyframes. Press zero to RAM Preview. There is my nice overlapping animation. I have this animation going on in my pre-comp. I go ahead and navigate to my final comp and there is my animation already built in along with that map move. This case I think I'm going to go back, select these keyframes, Command+Click or Ctrl+Click, and go back to Linear Keyframes, so that I have a nice steady linear movement that's not competing with the ease on the individual cities.
That's something little more gradual. I like that affect better, and I might even end this animation earlier. Again, I can go ahead and just move once out of keyframes and entire map. I don't need to animate the map and all the cities individually. I like that. That has a better feel to it. And you can keep pushing this even further. In one of the sidebar movies at the end of this lesson we'll talk about a great technique called "Edit this, look at that." It's a way of going back and working on an earlier composition in your chain of comps, while seeing the result in your final comp.
So don't be afraid of multiple comps. They are a little bit more work to manage, but boy, do they make life easier when it comes time to accommodate changes.
The After Effects Apprentice series was created by Trish and Chris Meyer. These tutorials are designed for After Effects CS4 through CC, and can be used on their own or as a companion to the Meyer's book, After Effects Apprentice.
- Grouping layers by nesting and precomposing
- Identifying and solving render order issues
- Navigating composition hierarchies
- Editing a precomp while viewing the result in another composition
- Preserving the frame rate of a nested composition